Polonium-210 found on British Airways jets

The world's favourite poison

The agitation surrounding possible polonium-210 contamination following the apparent assassination of Alexander Litvinenko has spread to the skies. British Airways staff and customers are being contacted after traces of radioactive polonium-210 were found on three of its jets.

Despite minimal health risks, BA is contacting 33,000 passengers who flew on 221 BA Boeing 767 European short haul flights between October 25 and yesterday. A dedicated helpline has received 2,500 calls already, BA said.

Ex-KGB man Alexander Litvinenko died last week from radiation poisoning. Tests identified the polonium-210 isotope in his body, and subsequently at several London locations he had visited.

Scotland Yard would not say why the BA planes had become embroiled in the investigation, but are known to be tracking the movements of Litvinenko's associates.

BA's information page is here. ®

Bootnote

We reported yesterday polonium-210 is avaliable to buy online. The vendor has since posted this message: "You would need about 15,000 of our Polonium-210 needle sources at a total cost of about $1 million - to have a toxic amount."

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